Last year for Thanksgiving Clinton and I took more than just a few days off and took to the road with the dogs. Our goal was to drive to Death Valley and see where we wanted to go from there. Last time we had been to Death Valley was in 2011 when we worked out in Panamint, and we wanted to drive through some of the same areas. Driving from Page to Las Vegas takes about 5 hours depending on the traffic through various parts on your trip, and another 2 hours to get into Death Valley. We decided to take Hwy 95 to Beatty and turn on 375 towards Stovepipe Wells. We traveled this route frequently when we worked that summer and recognized that most everything was the same. Pretty neat since our experience living in cities means constant change even over short periods of time!
Our trip didn’t end here, though we did decide to head up north towards Yosemite before doing an elaborate loop around the Sierras to get to Sequoia and Kings Canyon later during this journey. On our way back to Page we decided to take another journey we had done back in 2011 to get back into Death Valley and head through Ridgecrest south of the park. Heading north on 198 towards Panamint Springs brought back many memories of traveling in such a remote and desolate place. That being said, we love Death Valley! It is such a unique place. One of my favorite things about this desert is the heat and the sand. It does not have the same red rock or painted desert look that the canyons hold in Arizona, or the stark sandstone formations that are located in Utah. It is dark, with very low cover, and dry sand with cracks everywhere in the earth that surround a hot dry atmosphere. Death Valley is simply an amazing place to sit and watch the world go by – with the comfort of water of course. It’s hard to put into words how great Death Valley is…but don’t let it fool you. Clinton and I always carry more than enough water, which is at least 1 gallon a person. Salty foods are you friend, as is finding shade whenever possible and keeping exercise to a minimum during the hottest parts of the day. Usually 1-4 p.m. In Death Valley it was not uncommon for the temperature to reach over 100 by 9 a.m., however. Be smart and enjoy your visit to Death Valley!
During our visit we had the chance to drive out to the charcoal kilns – one of the best reasons to drive up through Ridgecrest. Wildrose Canyon is host to these amazing architectural features located in Death Valley. 10 total beehive shaped structures about 25 feet high survive as the best example of such type of kilns in the western states. These kilns were completed in 1877 by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company for fuel usage in two smelters located in the Argus Range west of Panamint Valley. There is not evidence that the kilns were used after 1879 which is a good reason these kilns are in such good condition. If you are able to make it out there, and we did with our Honda Civic and Honda Accord on two separate occasions, we definitely recommend visiting this unique and awesome area!
Death Valley is actually full of life. Darwin Falls is a hike near Panamint that starts in the desert sands and ends in a small pool of water with trees and dragonflies. Rainstorms flash across the desert periodically, not normally, but when they do it shows how much life is everywhere in Death Valley. If you end up only having a few hours and can divert you can drive across definitely take the time. You’ll probably never see anything as unique and exciting as Death Valley National Park!
We still have not been up to Scotty’s Castle or the Racetrack – but now that we have our truck we have added this to our list! Stay tuned for an update on this wonderful National Park!